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Proposal would prosecute those who aid perpetrators of violent crimes

State prosecutors may soon have another tool to use to convict gang members who take part in violent crimes. If a bill now working its way through committees in Madison becomes law, it could join the long list of laws named after a specific crime...

State prosecutors may soon have another tool to use to convict gang members who take part in violent crimes.

If a bill now working its way through committees in Madison becomes law, it could join the long list of laws named after a specific crime victim.

Joey George was murdered ten years ago in a gang shooting. His grandmother, Shirley George, hopes a new law will be named after him. The law would help prosecutors convict not just gang members who pull the trigger in murders, but also those who help plan and carry out such shootings.

George spoke at a hearing last week on what she hopes will become known as "Joey's Law". She says it's been proven that when the public hears a law bearing a victim's name, it automatically alerts everyone of the exact nature of the offense.

"If treated the same way, this law will alert everyone that there is now a greater penalty for aiding and abetting a felon," she said.

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The bill has strong support from both prosecutors and victims' rights groups. Former Kenosha District attorney Bob Jambois says it will give prosecutors another arrow in their quiver to aim at gang members who plan shootings and use new recruits to carry them out.

But advocates of sentencing reform say when criminal justice policy is made on the basis of one tragic event, it often leads to longer sentences for people who may not deserve them and fuels the overcrowding of prisons.

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